I did, however, recently have one enjoyable acquisition: Soulbound, by Heather Brewer.
Description from Amazon: "Tril is a world where Barrons and Healers are Bound to each other: Barrons fight and Healers cure their Barrons' wounds in the ongoing war with the evil Graplar King. Seventeen-year-old Kaya was born a Healer, but she wants to fight. In Tril, and at Shadow Academy, where she is sent to learn to heal, it is against Protocol for Healers to fight. So Kaya must learn in secret. Enter two young men: One charming, rule-following Barron who becomes Bound to Kaya and whose life she must protect at all costs. And one with a mysterious past who seems bent on making Kaya's life as difficult as possible. Kaya asks both to train her, but only one will, and the consequences will change their lives forever."
The book does have a few gaping plot holes, but nonetheless, I had a good time reading it, and I'll get the sequel when it comes out. But there was, however, one problem with the main character that lead me to write this post.
Kaya is a great, strong female character. She has all the hallmarks: she's stubborn, intelligent, brave, and distrustful of authority - and learns to fight in an improbable amount of time. But that's also kind of the problem - she's too much like every other strong heroine out there. So much so, that I think you could pull her out of the book and put her in any other world, and she'd fit in just fine.
And thus, in a very roundabout way, we've arrived at my main point: an often overlooked aspect of character development is setting. It's a little hard to explain, but I think that for secondary world fantasy, the characters need to be firmly grounded in their world in order to be truly well-rounded. Think of Jedi knights - their personalities are so aligned with the Jedi philosophy, that if you moved them to any other setting, they'd stick out like a sore thumb.**
Normally, at this point in the post, I would offer observations on how to fix the problem I've identified. But this time... it's hard to say. So I'm asking all of you out there: how do you make your characters fit into your world? Is it philosophy, like in those sci-fi staples Star Wars and Star Trek? If your setting is historical, how do you portray historically accurate cultural attitudes without offending 90 percent of the planet? How do you make a female character align to modern notions of strength but not be totally anachronistic?
The future characters of the world thank you for your input.
*Not wooden in the literal sense... though that would be cool. "In a world of steel, she's the only natural thing left..."
With quality ideas like these, it's shocking how I'm not world-famous yet.
**These aren't the characters you're looking for.